Category Archives: career change

Job Journey: The Art of the Follow Up

When you apply for a job, it’s a bit like calling someone after the first date.  You really want them to call back to make plans.  You keep looking at your phone (or hitting “get mail” in your mailbox) while you pretend to be doing something else.

What if you don’t hear back? How should you go about following up?

I like the “3 Touch” rule.  Reach out three times to follow up.  It can be emails, voice mails, LinkedIn messages or a combination of all three.  

Your messages (on either platform) should be short and meaningful.  Include your name and the role that you applied for.  If someone important suggested that you apply, mention that next.  Make a reference to the most relevant thing you bring to the table.  It could be your current title, the software you developed, the award you just won, Anything that might offer a spark of recognition when your resume hits the top of the pile.

If after three tries, you hear nothing, walk away.  You have made a strong impression.  You don’t want to cross the line into “oh no, not her again”.

Keep in mind, you might still in the running for the job.  All sorts of things happen behind the scenes to delay a positive response.

Your resume might be the next one to review when the recruiter gets called into two back to back meetings and that rolls into lunch and then all of the sudden, it’s the end of the day.  The resume pile goes home for an evening work session, but then he or she falls asleep on the couch only to be woken at 3am by the dog.

Or the hiring manager decides that this role is not as important as the other two in the department and so the focus shifts away for a week or two.

Be diligent and move on.  There are lots of opportunities out there.  Keep raising your hand and someone will call on you.


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Filed under career change, Job Search

Job Journey: Where to Park Your Resume

Now that your resume is refreshed and polished and you have it stored in a safe and accessible spot, you have a few more decisions to make.

You can choose to make your information available to hiring managers and recruiters or you can hold on to it until someone asks.

This really depends on how you are feeling about the next step in your career.  Are you actively seeking a change, open to considering a change or not wanting to change at all?  

If you are completely blissed out in your role, then hold on to your resume.  Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date so people (former colleagues, fellow alumni) can find you but other than that, keep on keeping on.

If you are open to hearing about new possibilities, you should definitely update your LinkedIn profile but you might also want to look at registering with Glassdoor, Indeed, Monster or other niche resume holding sites.

This allows people in the recruiting community to find your information and get in touch with you.  It’s up to you to decide which inquiries you want to act on and where you want to invest your time.

Make sure your personal (not work) email and phone number are clearly visible on your information.  There is no point in having it out there if there is no way to contact you.

If you are actively seeking a new gig, decide which sites make the most sense for your career and objectives.  Monster and LinkedIn have become the universal, everyone-is-there spots but many professional associations host their own career sites and there are also sites for people who are just starting their career (Talentegg) or well established executives (Higherbracket).

Be sensible about where you put your material.  You don’t want to wallpaper the world.  You want to be in the place that will generate the most opportunities.



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Filed under career change, Job Search, linkedin, Resume

Job Journey: Resume Ready and Available

Now that your resume is ready to go and represents you in the best possible way, what will you do with it?

You could print a bunch of copies and carry them around with you. We carry coffee and water, why not resumes? Most people want you to send your resume. They don’t want to carry it around any more than you do.

There was a time when people carried little USB sticks with their resume saved on them. That still works but not great in practical terms. I have seen the tupperware that gets left in our canteen and using that as a baseline, I don’t think many people can or will keep track of a tiny little memory chip.

How about your phone? That works until you lose it or it falls in the toilet or dies just when you need it.

The simplest thing is to email the various versions of your resume to your own personal (not work!) email address. Then when you need it, you can sift through your inbox and forward the attachment with a nice note.

If you want a more robust (but still free) solution, set up a cloud folder. Dropbox, OneDrive or iCloud all offer free places to store your stuff in the cloud. You can access if from any laptop or desktop or from your phone if you install the app.

This lets you save the various versions or the modifications you make along the way. You could even start a log of your resume sending activities for follow up later.

But that’s for another day. For now, just work on getting your resume ready and having it handy.


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Filed under career change, Resume

Job Journey – Perfecting Your Resume

Resumes are as individual as people.  Even when you use a Microsoft template, your document will still be different from other people’s documents.


Should you have an objective or not? There people on both side of the fence.  It can be helpful to the reader if you lay out a clear objective.

Looking for long term role in a fast-paced customer service team.

You can also have more of a summary statement.  The would be one or two lines that summarize what you bring to the table.

Senior Finance Leader with Expertise in Mergers, Acquisitions and Integrations.

This is one of the parts that can change depending on who will be reading it.  If you are looking to do something different, you might want to work that into a statement about your next career objective.

Inside Sales Leader  with great track record in consumer products looking to move in to an outside sales role.

If you want to do the same thing in a better place, a summary statement might make better use of the space.


For each job, you want to lay out the name of the company, your title, the dates you held the role and a few bullet points about what you did.

You can also add a link to their website and you can consider adding a line or two about what the company does.  This is a good idea if you were toiling away in a company that no one has ever hear of before.

You can add a detail about why you left but this is not really necessary.  You want to leave something to talk about during the interview.

Most people have details of at least ten years of experience.  You can add more if it’s relevant but just stick to company, title and dates.

Your resume may up being two or three pages.  There are no hard and fast rules about the length.  What we do know if that the average recruiter will take 2-3 seconds to read your resume and decide to move you to the A pile or the B pile.

This means that the top half of the first page is where the most important material should go.  Keep that in mind and make sure you maximize the use of that space.  You only get one page to make a great impression.


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Filed under career change, Job Search, Resume, Uncategorized

How to Get a Great Job in 2018

Welcome to 2018.  Got plans? Maybe a promotion? Or a new job all together?

It can be overwhelming to even think about. Who to talk to? Where to look? Who would make good references? Where the heck is your resume?  Ack!!

Looking for a job can be a full time job.  Looking for a job when you have a job is tricky.  Both require planning and commitment. 

Random job seeking can work.  We all know someone who met a guy and got hired in five minutes.  But let’s face it, that generally only happens in the movies to people who are far better looking than us.

Like any other goal, you need to make a plan and break out the steps with a timeline.  Also, like any plan, you need to be prepared for set backs and derailers.

In keeping with this idea, I have made a plan for 2018 for this blog.  I will be walking through the process of getting a new gig step by step, week by week.

Oh sure, there will still be posts with random thoughts and comments on the world of work.  There is too much ridiculousness to close that door but the focus will be in the “job journey” and how to keep driving in the right direction.

If you want to get a head start on next week, see if you can remember the last time you updated your resume and where you put it.

Good luck!


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Filed under career change, Job Search, Resume

Get Happy with your Job

The University of Alberta gave out some honourary degrees last week and Bob McDonald, the host of CBC’s Quirks and Quarks was one of the recipients.  He was recognized for is efforts to bring scientific information and discoveries to communities across Canada and around the world.  Anyone who has listed to his show even once, has come away smarter.

Here is what he said in his acceptance speech “Figure out what you want to do and look for opportunities that point you in that direction.  You’ll be amazed where you end up.”  Every graduate and everyone in a career crisis could use this as a framework to figure out what’s next.

Figuring out what you like can be kind of difficult if you have been in a “hamster wheel” kind of job for a while.  If you are feeling down and out about your work, it can be hard to identify what you like.  It can feel like the whole thing is trash.

Try taking a walk or meditating or some other activity that does not require concentration. Let you mind wander to the last time you laughed at work.  What were you doing and who were you with?  Did it happen again?  Where you with colleagues, customers or vendors?  What lead up to the situation?

The answers will start to help you separate out the good parts of your work.  It’s pretty easy to dwell on the crap but it doesn’t really help.

As you start to pick out the good bits ( liking customers, solving problems with systems, developing new ways to present a product), you can take that information forward to look for opportunities that focus on those good bits.  The idea is to get into a role with more of the stuff you like and less of the crap you don’t.

When you get on the LinkedIn or Indeed to look at job postings, don’t start with a title.  Try searching for the phrase or activity that you want to do.  You will probably get some results that are not relevant but you will also get some things that you had never considered or didn’t even know existed.

For example, I like to make up recipes and experiment with ingredients.  I put those words in LinkedIn and learned that I could be a bartender/mixologist or a beverage flavour technologist or a cereal product developer.  Who knew?

Let’s be clear – every job has some junk but to maximize your impact and satisfaction, you want the junk to play a smaller part.




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Filed under career change, Job Search, linkedin

Back Door References – Just another form of gossip

In most searches, the final step is reference checking.  The candidate provides three or four people they have worked with or reported to.  Those people are asked a series of questions about the candidate’s work style and reliability and if the references are done right, they are also asked about areas of improvement and for an explanation of why they left the company.

This exercise is not meant to confirm that the person can do the job.  It provides verification of the good things you saw in the candidate.  And when you see common themes in what people have said, it’s a pretty sure thing.

Sure, this can seem like a bit of a rubber stamp.  But that’s okay.  If every reference check gave you crappy feedback, then you would soon realize have a major problem with your vetting and interview process.

Sometimes impatient or unsure hiring managers take this into their own hands and call people who have worked with or know of the candidate.  Many industries are small enough that this is possible.  This is called back door reference checking.

From a privacy standpoint, this is totally wrong and really crosses the line.  There is a reason we ask a candidate for people to call.

If you hear something bad, what will you do?  Call the candidate and tell them that their former manager said they were unreliable?  What if that manager was on leave for harassment?  You don’t know.  You have no context.

What if you call a former colleague and they happen to mention it to someone else in the organization?  What happens to that candidate who was quietly exploring a new role and all of the sudden everyone knows?  Bad news.

Do don’t play fast and loose with people’s careers.  If there is a particular point of view you want included in the reference, just ask.  That’s the best way.


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Filed under career change, Interview